Chapter 2- Lost and confused
Lilia arrived in front of an old-looking shop. On the shop window was a painted sign in beautiful calligraphy “Crystal Dragon Antique Shop”. Even when looking at it outside it held a sense mystery and when you opened the door it was like you were in a whole different era. There were lots of tables, chairs, plates, paintings, vases, swords, not to mention small little trinkets like earrings, bells, figurines. It was a treasure trove.
“Grandpa Po,” Lila called. “It’s Lilia. Grandpa?”
Lilia gripped her backpack straps out of habit and walked around the shop being careful not to touch anything. There were statues of dragons, more vases, and cups. As someone who focused in the present and the future, Lilia had absolutely no interest in history. To her each item in this shop was just an overpriced commodity so she was just looking at them with nonchalance (but she was still dead scared of breaking anything).
She was passing by the front of the stockroom when she felt a twinge in her heart. She immediately stopped and grabbed her chest. The pain was no longer there instead her heartbeat began to race as she stared at the door.
“Grandpa Po?” she called.
She opened the door slowly and saw boxes and crates inside the large room. One of the crates was opened. Must be one of the newly delivered stock. She went near it and grabbed the edge of the crate and peek inside.
There were a sea of foam peanuts but she could see the edges and corners of the antique items. On top of all those items was a round item. It looked like a plate made out of bronze but it didn’t have any carvings on its surface. She carefully picked it up from the crate and held it in front of her face. In an instant she saw a familiar face. Her hair was fixed in an elaborate design while she wore a headpiece. Her most striking feature was her gray eyes that seemed to peek at one’s soul. The woman held an expression of wonderment and surprise.
Then the woman in the bronze plate blinked.
“Ah!” Lilia exclaimed in surprise as she dropped the plate and took a step back. She didn’t notice a small box behind causing her to stumble and fall. She closed her eyes and brace for herself for the impact on her butt but instead of the cold hard floor she fell in soft wet grass.
Nobody would surely believe her. As she fell on her bottom, the scenery in front of her distorted for a split second turning into a forest. Even the uncles and grandpas in the shop who adored her to no end will surely say she was just hallucinating.
She stared at her surroundings. She looked at her right and then to her left but all she could see were grass and trees. She could feel the grass between her fingers. She proceeded to check her head for bumps just in case she hit her head when she fell and experience memory loss but no such luck. She then pinched her cheek and when she didn’t wake from a dream or hypnosis as expected, she began to panic.
“Okay! Get a grip on yourself Lilia.” Lilia said out loud as she stood up. “There is absolutely, positively no way I could have transferred from grandpa Po’s shop to here… in the middle of nowhere, no way!”
She took a number of deep breaths to calm herself and felt the cool, fresh air. She could hear crickets in the surrounding.
I guess that means I’m not in the city anymore; it’s impossible for the air to feel this good in a city. Not to mention this place looks like an untouched part of a forest. What am I even thinking? That’s just like saying I got magically transported from grandpa Po’s shop. Hahaha No way right? Right?
She fixed her scarf and zipped her parka up. She gripped her backpack straps as if trying to take energy from it and began to walk, carefully observing her surroundings. She pushed the chest high grass blades and overhanging branches away while wishing she wouldn’t accidentally touch a spider or encounter a leech.
She remembered a book she borrowed once about a group of teenagers who were transported to a forest where they had to kill each other until one person was left. Totally not a good thing to remember when you’re stuck in the middle of nowhere and have no idea how you got there. Just please don’t let me meet some weirdo or some psychopath…
Lilia was stunned. When she passed through overhanging vines she came face to face with a man. He looked in his early thirties with a well-built body. He had a beard and a hairstyle that reminded her of actors from those Chinese action movies her Uncle Shan liked to watch. He wore well-worn robes and cloth shoes. He was also holding a sword in his hands. He had the same expression of disbelief in his face.
Shouts could be suddenly heard from a distance. The man looked as if he was startled by the sound, waking him from his trance. He glanced at the distance where the noise originated then looked at Lilia. He looked like he was in a dilemma.
Lilia was rooted in the spot as thoughts of weirdos and psychopaths danced in her head. She gingerly reached for the side of her bag when the man’s expression changed. He had now a determined look on his face.
The man suddenly grabbed her arm then started running. He began to speak but Lilia had trouble understanding what he was saying.
“Wait!” Lilia asked as she tried to keep up with the man’s speed. “Why are we running? Why do I have come with you?”
The man looked at her strangely, possibly also unable to understand what she was saying. He pointed at the back and began to speak. “••••••••People••••••run••••••danger”
Lilia found the sentence construction strange and he was using a lot of Chinese words that she was not familiar with. The words she knew reminded her of Grandpa Po. However, Lilia could understand the main point of what he said. This man was being chased. The question was why?
She didn’t trust this man. But the problem was she had no idea how she got here. She needed to know if she could rely on this person. Will she be safer with the man being chased or the people doing the chasing?
And she had to make the decision quick because she was doubtful whether she had the speed or the stamina to run a long distance. Even now she was already breathing heavily. She also starting to feel a sharp pain in her sides and they were running for only a minute or two. The voices became even closer.
“Stop!” Lilia said as she stopped running. The man turned to her in surprise. He impatiently talked as he tried to drag Lilia to run again. Lilia shook her head and racked her head for an idea to get over this situation. The pain on her side wasn’t helping.
The man seemed to be in a state of panic. Yet, it looked like he had no plans on leaving her here. He then assumed a stance with his sword, ready anytime to face the men who were chasing him.
“Ah!” Lilia blurted out as she saw the sword. “Quick! Hack these bushes and then those over-hanging branches.”